Here’s a conundrum for you: A business cannot survive without an online presence, yet it is difficult to make a splash and be liked (and found) in a big way online. Building a following, a community, is more accurately compared to an extreme marathon than a quick sprint to the finish line. There is no end to community building; it is a continual effort.

Seth Godin coined the term “tribe.” Others call it followers, fans, disciples, or the pod. Whatever term you prefer, these are the people you need so that you can stand out as an authority. They like you, your talent, and your message, and they always want more of what you have. When you deliver, you are building your very own community of loyalists.

I’ve talked in depth about the HOW and WHY of social networking because I feel it is the most important thing an entrepreneur can do. Sure, you may have talent like Picasso, but it counts for nothing if nobody else ever knows about it.

As you encourage lookers to become leads, market to them in consistent and subtle ways so they recognize how much they need your unique set of creative services or photography skills. Hopefully this leads to your first sale. After the initial transaction, you continue to deepen the relationship with the goal of building a strong inner circle with each client. And guess what? Everyone in the inner circle is your brand ambassador—a dedicated fan who will tell anyone how wonderful you are. And a dedicated following is a prerequisite for building your authority and becoming an influencer.

Sounds simple enough, right? It’s easier said than done. Here are three ideas you may find helpful to get started with attracting your tribe.

1.) During my three-day CreativeLive broadcast of Building Your Authority Platform, my co-host Kenna and I regularly asked our audience to engage with us by sharing their AHA moments. My first tip is to be specific about what you want them to do. Asking for feedback in general is not as good as asking for the one thing that made a difference. “What was your AHA moment?”

2.) It is clear that someone like Seth Godin cannot possibly connect personally with every single person in his tribe. But as we are beginning to build our momentum, we must reach out and respond to as many community members as possible. Personal engagement is the key to building your authority.

3.) Stay in touch with consistent messaging so that enthusiasm over something you said or did doesn’t cool off. We have to keep the momentum going as much as we can, and we do this by regularly reaching out and engaging our communities. But beware, don’t make this simply a pitch-fest for your business. Provide a good mix of valuable content that links to your services. Finding a balance is essential.

The key to having loyal fans and a thriving community is personal engagement. My advice: make it as personal as you can. And please let me know what works for you!

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